Rialto Theatre

1023 Fair Oaks Avenue,
South Pasadena, CA 91030

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Showing 1 - 25 of 245 comments

DavidZornig on October 19, 2021 at 2:45 pm

Additional history credit Joe Sonderman.

October 17, 1925 - The Rialto Theater in South Pasadena opened. The Rialto Orchestra under the leadership of Rhuel Eno Moulton provided musical accompaniment for the “five snappy acts” of vaudeville Director William A. Seiter and Star Reginald Denny were in attendance. The theater closed in 2007. Featured in the film “La La Land,” it is now used by a church group.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on March 3, 2021 at 8:30 pm

On March 10, 2021 at 7pm I will be doing a free online presentation on the history of the Rialto, leading right up to the recent exterior restoration that the owners did over the last year. I consulted with them to make sure authentic colors and materials were utilized. The presentation will include exclusive behind the scenes photos of the process as well as historic interior photos of non-public areas. You can register here: www.crowdcast.io/e/rialto

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on November 22, 2019 at 2:30 am

Thanks Jorge! Yes, I was there for the 3 day shoot, they did exteriors and interiors. They even shot in the projection room which is a first for the Rialto! Mick Garris, the writer/director, was really great, he actually visited the Rialto a lot when he was younger and wrote the script with it in mind, having no idea that he would be able to shoot there! For those interested, here is a link to some behind the scenes photos I shot during filming of Nightmare Cinema: https://www.facebook.com/pg/FriendsoftheRialto/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2558787384140105

Jorge on November 21, 2019 at 2:16 am

Watching a horror movie called “Nightmare Cinema” on Shudder & the Rialto is featured prominently (at least the exterior). Looks beautiful & haunting at the same time.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on May 9, 2017 at 6:07 am

The latest news on the Rialto Theatre is that the owners signed a lease with Mosaic Church. They have exclusive rights to use the entire building, My group, Friends of the Rialto, has been holding special events in the Rialto for the last 2 years with the owner’s support. We have presented a proposal to the church leaders to manage and program the Theatre whenever the church is not using it. We believe this is the best use of the theatre and will help bring the community together. For the latest, sign up on our mailing list at www.FriendsoftheRialto.org.

Trolleyguy on May 1, 2017 at 11:28 pm

The marquee and exterior of this theatre show up in the Oscar-winning film “La La Land”

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on September 12, 2016 at 8:32 am

With the support of the Rialto’s new owners, Friends of the Rialto has now produced 2 fundraising shows and are in rehearsals for a fully staged production of Funny Girl with full orchestra. We also have an online fundraising campaign with the goal of bringing in enough in cash and pledges to take on the lease and restore and reopen the Rialto. Please visit my website for information on upcoming events, and a link to the fundraiser. We have lots of fun “perks” too!

We also did a community work day, getting rid of a lot of junk (don’t worry, nothing cool or vintage!). The goal was to open up space on stage to make it easier to produce our shows! Another work day will be scheduled soon, you can get on my mailing lists on the website too!


DonSolosan on December 7, 2015 at 7:34 am

A Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Insider’s Peek.


Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on June 10, 2015 at 6:21 am

Actually, that was LA Magazine’s “spin” on it! I posted the pictures on my Facebook site and Chris Nichols asked to use them in exchange for giving Friends of the Rialto credit. He made most of the details up. There was no “panic” or “racing to the scene”, I was the one who was originally contacted by Modern Family and I put them in touch with the owners! The TV crew was very friendly and loved the Rialto, and I think the show was sweet. Here is a link to watch the epson online: http://abc.go.com/shows/modern-family/episode-guide/season-06/623-crying-out-loud

surf_digby on June 10, 2015 at 1:24 am


Looks like the filming of Modern Family caught the locals by surprise.

Keith on May 18, 2015 at 3:27 am

Featured in a episode of Modern Family.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on March 3, 2015 at 5:11 am

Hockey Dude, please contact me at if you would be interested in using the theatre or other spaces within the building. Thanks!

Hockey Dude
Hockey Dude on March 3, 2015 at 4:38 am

I wouldnt mind renting out some of the upper office space for an animation studio. South Pasadena is home to many significant and talented artists, filmmakers and animators.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on March 2, 2015 at 11:36 pm

Landmark Theatres singed over the remainder of the lease. I am not sure what the terms were, but they had made it clear to me that they would be happy to let go of it. They were not interested in continuing operations at the Rialto.

silver on March 2, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Is Landmark Theatres still involved at this theater anymore?
A comment above said that Landmark’s long term lease runs to 2024. Did the new owner let them out of it, or are they still on the hook?

Hockey Dude
Hockey Dude on March 2, 2015 at 5:13 am

The last first-run, original full length movie to be shown at the Rialto was “The Subhuman”, on May 8th,2009.
It was an indy film by R.Hall. I cant wait to see its renovation.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on March 1, 2015 at 7:49 pm

I have now met with the Owners of the Rialto a few times. They plan to start restoring the exterior and the storefronts as soon as possible, and will wait on restoring the theatre itself until a suitable tenant is found. Friends of the Rialto is working to bring in a quality theatre operator or a coalition of theater users. If anyone would like to be a potential user of the theatre, please contact me at .

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on January 10, 2015 at 4:28 pm

I am working to set up a meeting with Mr. Shomof to discuss his plans, and push for a proper and careful restoration and reactivation. Check in with my Facebook page: www.facebook.oom/FriendfsoftheRialto or sign up on my website: www.FriendsoftheRialto.org for updates.

JimMitchell on January 10, 2015 at 3:24 pm

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Rialto has been purchased by well-known L.A.-area developer Izek Shomof. The Times quotes him as saying he hopes to reopen the Rialto as an entertainment venue, perhaps including a bar and screenings of old films.


Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 5, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Very exciting news for the Rialto, in June the owners decided to put the Rialto up for sale! After working for 27 years on getting the Rialto restored, there is FINALLY some movement! The owner’s representative announced that they were accepting bid proposals, deadline was July 16th. As an advocate for the Rialto I consulted with many potential buyers, and heard some very intriguing proposals.
The owners have been deliberating for a few weeks now, I have been told that the majority of offers were proposing to restore the theatre as a THEATRE, but until the owners go public with their choice, we do not know for sure who will be the new owner and what they are planning to do with this beautiful theatre.
I have been reporting what I can on the process at my Facebook page, and have some beautiful new photos there by my friend Hunter Kerhart. Please check there for the latest info and discussions: www.facebook.oom/FriendfsoftheRialto

HowardBHaas on August 21, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Article http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/government-and-politics/20130820/south-pasadena-weighs-plans-for-decaying-rialto-theatre

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on July 15, 2013 at 3:19 am

Thanks ejones! If you win that lottery, give us a call! If and when we are able to restore and reopen the Rialto Theatre I also want to see silents and classics as a part of the programming!

Since you mentioned seeing the filming, you might be interested in the stills I’ve posted on our Facebook page from The Player as well as some other films that have been shot at the Rialto. Go to our Facebook page, click on Photos, then look for an album titled: “The Rialto Theatre in the Movies”


ejones880 on July 15, 2013 at 2:58 am

I lived in South Pasadena\Alhambra in 1992. I remember I was driving around the area when the “The Player” was being filmed and the actors in my way in the street on Mission. I saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Much Ado About Nothing and Life is Beautiful here. Sad that’s its closed now, If I won the lottery I would open it and show silent and classic films.

Dramatrauma on June 12, 2012 at 1:37 am

Thanks to the local groups spurring on the sign restoration and preservation of the Rialto. But, Jebbia Family Trust and Landmark Cinema shouldnt it be you taking the lead to make sure this fantastic facility can once again be a growing concern for the both of you? Lets hope the new sign lights the way to these two entities giving the Rialto the attention it needs to bring them income they need. Why spend the next 12 years just sitting on it?

Alan Bell
Alan Bell on May 5, 2012 at 3:15 am

From “Signs of the Times,” May 2012:

Rialto Theater’s 85-Year-Old Sign Saved: Efforts underway to preserve South Pasadena landmark

The iconic blade sign at South Pasadena, CA’s historic Rialto Theatre, which was opened in 1925 but is currently shuttered, has avoided a date with the wrecking ball. Local police expressed concern that a February windstorm that swept through the area had damaged the building and sign, and rendered it unsafe. The sidewalk in front of the building was closed as a precaution.

However, structural engineer Michael Krakower, a historic-building specialist, determined the Rialto’s sign posed no imminent structural danger. Landmark Theatres, which holds a lease on the property until 2024, has decided to repair the sign and is currently seeking a contractor.

Escott O. Norton, a spokesman for Friends of the Rialto, said, “The blade sign dates to the building’s original construction, and the lower marquee was replaced in the ’30s and ’40s. There is visible rust around the blade sign, and the paint around the marquee is peeling.”

He said both signs are protected by a National Register of Historic Places designation, which requires more approvals to tear it down, but doesn’t guarantee the sign’s preservation. Dominick Jebbia acquired the Rialto in the 1930s, and placed it in a family trust in 1950, which still endures.